Lifemark Village Scheme, the new retirement living industry accreditation scheme

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A new village accreditation scheme, one that replaces the Australian Retirement Village Accreditation Scheme (ARVA), has been announced in what is being called a giant leap for the retirement living industry. The Lifemark Village Scheme aims to provide a professional quality assurance framework for villages and is geared to assist operators be more accountable and more responsive to residents. The idea is to create offer residents a village health-check while protecting the entire industry from unnecessary, time-consuming and often expensive regulatory intervention.

BSI is one of Australia’s largest and most experienced accreditation body and has been contracted to independently administer the Lifemark Village Scheme. It audits dozens of similar schemes across the country, from complex consumer-oriented businesses like Woolworths to smaller, health and human services providers. BSI believe that the retirement living sector is set for significant growth, and with that growth, there’s an increased need to focus on the rights of older people to enjoy safe, affordable, high quality homes. An internationally recognised scheme will, they say, positively influence the decision of older people to choose retirement villages purpose-built for their needs. The Lifemark Village Scheme has been created to enable operators to assure the quality of their accommodation against 26 Lifemark standards developed by industry.

These standards align with international schemes and are designed to capture a resident’s perspective. The six categories of village performance are:
• Lifestyle: social activities, transport, resident involvement in decision making
• Support: information, resident orientation, communication, satisfaction
• People/staff: dignity and privacy, performance of employees and volunteers, staff orientation, performance management, people development
• Safety: security, signage, emergency procedures, disaster planning
• Regulations: food and catering, financial arrangements, compliance, occupational health and safety, insurance
• Village policy: dispute resolution, resident meetings, maintenance

BSI’s position as a third party auditor will give the Lifemark Village Scheme greater independence and validity. They will be responsible for appointing, training and developing auditors across the accreditation process. This will give residents greater comfort during the assessment. The scheme introduces a new 18 month on-site surveillance check, the most rigorous for any industry association. It also sits on a more equitable fee structure that takes into account the size of the village operator. In recognition of evolving operational systems for many multi-village owners, those with more than two villages or those with centralised office systems will be audited by a multi-site sampling method that recognises their needs.

Ultimately, the Lifemark Village Scheme aims to help foster an industry controlled by self-regulation that avoids hi-cost, lo-value government intervention. By giving village operators a mechanism to identify risk to their operation and reputation, it’s hoped that Lifemark becomes a tool that not only builds brand prestige but one that attracts prospective residents as well.

Visit BSI’s website http://www.ncsi.com.au/lifemark or email them marketing@ncsi.com.au for more information.

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